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How is a business letter formatted differently from a personal letter?

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Quick Answer

The differences between a business letter and a personal letter are the page layout and format, the content, the language and the punctuation. A business letter is a formal communication from one professional individual or group to another, while a personal letter is typically an informal communication between acquaintances.

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Full Answer

The standard page layout and format for a business letter includes single spaced lines with double spacing between paragraphs and data lines, 1-inch page margins and no paragraph indentation. The majority of business letters are typed with a professional font type, such as Times New Roman, and font point, such as 10 or 12. Personal letters do not follow any standard page layout or format. Personal letters are both handwritten and typed.

The content of a business letter is specific to a professional objective or purpose. The content of a personal letter covers a wide range of topics, such as family news or past events. Personal issues are never communicated in a business letter unless they are relevant to the objective or purpose of the communication.

Formal language is used in business letters. The tone of these letters is polite, and any person referenced within the letter is addressed by a proper title. Colons are used after salutations and some data lines. Personal letters use everyday language, colloquialisms and abbreviations. Personal letters capture the personality and voice of the writer in the text, while business letters have a neutral voice.

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